He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person (Prov. 24:8).
There are people who make mischief their business. They ponder, plan, and plot wicked deeds. They are "inventors of
evil things" (Rom. 1:30).
The burglar studies how he may break into a house undetected. The murderer carefully devises a scheme for killing someone without leaving a trail of evidence. The con artist deliberates on ways to milk some trusting soul. The rapist reflects on plans for locating and attacking his victims without getting caught. The common thief figures a variety of angles and approaches by which to steal. Big operators in such fields as prostitution and pornography hire expensive attorneys to research legal loopholes and study avenues of evading prosecution.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). That which was true of mankind in general in Noah's time is all too true of so many in our own time. Not all sin is premeditated, but so often the wicked person "deviseth mischief continually" (Prov. 6:14).
1. King Saul. Motivated largely by envy, Saul concentrated on harming David (1 Sam. 18:6-9). He offered David his daughter Michal in marriage, asking for one hundred foreskins of the Philistines as payment in place of dowry. "But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines." The plan failed, for David and his men slew two hundred Philistines rather than one hundred (1 Sam. 18:20-27). Saul sought to smite David with a javelin, but David escaped. He sent messengers to watch David's house and slay him in the morning. Michal helped David to escape (1 Sam. 19:10-17). Fleeing from place to place to stay out of the reach of Saul, "David knew that Saul secretly practiced mischief against him" (1 Sam. 23:9). Saul's evil designs against David failed because God was with David.
2. Haman. An Agagite and enemy of the Jews, Haman became prime minister of the Persian rule. Haman devised a wicked plot for exterminating the whole Jewish race. Esther, a lovely Jewish woman who had become the queen of Persia, risked her life to expose Haman's wicked plan. Esther approached the king "and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews" (Esth. 8:3). The decree enacted under Haman's influence was offset by another royal decree.
3. Greedy Leaders. The prophet Micah addressed certain nobles or leaders among the Israelites who devised mischief to enrich themselves, "Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and. take them by violence, and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage" (Micah 2:1,2).
These covetous men lay awake at night pondering evil plans. "Their wickedness is planned and deliberate . . . for instead of retiring at night to sleep, they lie awake scheming and devising evil plans" (H. Hailey).
4. Sanballet, Tobiah, and Gesham. These men were foreigners residing in the vicinity of Jerusalem at the time that Nehemiah arrived to rebuild the wall of the city. They thought up every scheme they could to stop the work on the wall. ". . . It grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel" (Neh. 2:10). They scoffed at the effort and insinuated that the Jews were making plans to rebel against the Persians (2:19). They resorted to mockery (4:1,2) and threatened to fight against Jerusalem (4:8). Later, as the work on the wall progressed, these enemies of the Jews urged Nehemiah to meet with them in the plains of Ono. Nehemiah knew their wicked design and refused to go. He said, "They thought to do me mischief" (6:2).
5. Chief Priests and Scribes. These leaders among the Jews during the days of Christ's ministry studied and consulted with each other about plans for slaying Jesus. "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priests . . . And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him" (Matt. 26:3,4). The chief priests agreed to pay Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16). These same leaders later "sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death" (Matt. 26:59).
These are few of the many examples in the Bible of people who could be called mischief-makers. God considers as abominable a "heart that deviseth wicked imaginations" (Prov. 6:18).
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 6, p. 181